A Plane, but no Plan

Be careful what you wish for - Just a few days ago cultivating equanimity became my intention for 2018. Little did I know that I would almost immediately have a great opportunity to practice the ability to maintain mental calmness and composure in a difficult situation.

Deja vu, all over again - We were trying to send our son back to college on the east coast and once again, a major storm had disrupted travel across the entire country. While we at Tahoe were despairing over the lack of snow, those on the east coast, particularly at JFK airport, had more than they could deal with. We’d seen this movie before – see my blog post from January 2017.

The Hotel California - “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” - The storm in New York had been on Thursday so we weren’t too concerned about his midnight JetBlue flight on Saturday. While checking him in we had a nice chat with Danielle, the counter agent; said goodbye as he headed toward TSA knowing that there was a plane sitting at the gate; and less than an hour later we got a text to come get him – the flight had been canceled due to the lack of a crew.

The Power of Name - We drove back to the airport and got into the line at the counter to re-book. The station manager was trying to explain the situation and options to the angry horde, some of whom had already been delayed for three days, When our turn at the counter came, we found ourselves again with Danielle. We smiled and greeted her by name and she looked up at us with relief on her face. She told us she was so happy that we were there with her so she could have a breather – to have people in front of her that were not yelling and cursing at her. When we called her by name the entire situation was transformed. In that moment, we saw her and she saw us. We knew that she was doing her best, with the info she had, and she booked him on the midnight flight two days later.

Maybe its a good thing, Maybe a bad thing – Practicing Equanimity involves trying not to asign emotional values to things that happen - just accepting that they did occur. In this case, he isn’t going to fly to New York on this plane – that just is - maybe it is a bad thing, maybe it is a good thing – it really isn’t clear right now. So we got to enjoy having him home for two more days, but he missed class and there might be consequences.

A Plane but no Plan - And so on Monday night we headed back to the airport. We knew that the plane had arrived and was sitting at the gate, he checked in at the counter with Danielle once again, checked his luggage, and we hugged our goodbyes outside TSA. (who asked him - “weren’t you just here?”) This time, with unfounded confidence, we drove 35 miles home and as we pulled into the driveway we got the text that they had canceled his flight once again. Back down to the airport at 1am, back home by 2:30am with assurances that they would find the crew for the plane and we’d get a call in a few hours with a departure time for later in the day. Danielle was glad that she had the next few days off and wished him well. By 5am it was clear that JetBlue might have had a plane, but they didn’t have a plan. We again drove back to the airport, found him a circuitous route on American Airlines, and once again hugged in front of the TSA entrance.

But this time we sat in the Costco parking lot across from the airport until we watched his plane fly away with him on it.